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Australian Kookaburra coins (often referred to as “Silver Kookaburras” or “Australian Silver Kookaburras”) are produced at the world-famous Perth Mint in Perth, Australia. The coins are composed of .999 fine silver and remains one of the few silver bullion coin series to change it’s design on a yearly basis. Silver Kookaburras meet the minimum purity requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service for IRA investing. Below, you’ll learn about the history, design and pricing of these world-renowned bullion coins. You’ll also learn how you can add them to your own investment portfolio.
Development, Introduction and History
The first Silver Kookaburra bullion coins were authorized for production in 1990. Just as is with the Australian Gold Kangaroo/Nugget coins, it was decided that the design of Silver Kookaburras would change from year to year in order to increase their value.
Most Australian bullion coins bear the images and/or names of the extremely unusual subset of animals unique to their continent alone. The kookaburra is a bird, known as a “kingfisher” and is among the most adept hunters in the Outback. The kookaburra is well known for its fantastic feathers and extremely loud (sometimes even described as “insane”) laughing call.
Since its release, the Silver Kookaburra has become the most popular Australian silver bullion series. Initially, only 1 troy ounce coins were produced at the Perth Mint, though larger weight denominations were later added. The Perth Mint sets a strict cap on yearly production of 1 oz coins. From 1990-2010, this limit was 300,000 individual coins. After 2011, the limit was raised to 500,000 silver coins as global demand for precious metals bullion exploded. Silver Kookaburra sizes other than 1 oz are available as demanded and have no set cap.
Australian Kookaburra Physical Characteristics
All Australian Kookaburra coins bear the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the front (“obverse”) side, though the age of the British monarch does vary depending on the year of mintage. Early coins depicted a young Queen Elizabeth II, but like most Australian coins this was later changed to a more mature Elizabeth with a less serious look on her face. Wrapping around the depiction of Queen Elizabeth II are the words ELIZABETH II,AUSTRALIA and 1 DOLLAR.
The rear (“reverse”) side of Silver Kookaburra coins carry images of kookaburra birds, with different variations for each year. THE AUSTRALIAN KOOKABURRA runs along the edge of the image, and the year of mintage (e.g. 2009) appears at the bottom. Somewhere on the coin will appear, in tiny script, the weight denomination and metal purity (e.g. 1 oz. .999 SILVER).
Throughout the history of the Australian Kookaburra mintage, special release versions of the coins have been made available to investors and collectors. One of the most recent releases was a one-time production of 80,000 “Dragon Privy” Silver Kookaburra, which included a lunar dragon privy mark (see image).
Australian Silver Kookaburras come in four different weight denominations. Unlike many silver coin offerings, Silver Kookaburras do not come in fractional sizes (½ oz, ¼ oz, etc). Regardless of the weight denomination, the image on the reverse side of the coins changes.
|Silver Weight||Face Value||Coin Weight||Diameter||Thickness|
|1 troy ounce||A$1||31.135 g||40.60 mm||4.00 mm|
|2 troy ounces||A$2||62.770 g||53.30 mm||4.50 mm|
|10 troy ounces||A$10||312.347 g||75.50 mm||8.70 mm|
|1 kilogram||A$30||1002.502 g||101.00 mm||14.60 mm|
For protection, each coin is either sold in a hardened plastic casing or available for bulk purchases inside of a display box.
Australian Kookaburra Pricing
Each Australian Silver Kookaburra carries a face value, or its transactional value when used as a currency. The value is set by Australian law.
The face value is completely separate from a coin’s intrinsic value, or value determined in the market. For Australian Kookaburras, this value is primarily determined by the spot price of silver.
Since the price of silver fluctuates daily, the market prices for Australian Kookaburras will fluctuate daily as well. You can check out our home page for live metal pricing.
Australian Silver Kookaburra one-ounce coins are both limited in supply and have a unique yearly mintage. This combination means that some Kookaburras carry a “numismatic” value that may be higher than their intrinsic market value. “Numismatic” value refers to the value of a coin to collectors and scholars.
Investing in Australian Kookaburra Coins Through an IRA
By placing real, physical silver inside on an IRA, investors add diversification to their portfolio that is independent of the fluctuations of stocks and bonds. Since the spot price of silver tends to be much lower than gold, silver can be a more affordable alternative hedge for those interested in precious metals.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows specific types of IRAs to carry gold, silver, platinum and palladium bullion in a portfolio. Sometimes referred to as a “precious metals IRA”, these IRA accounts may only contain IRS-approved bullion – such as the Australian Kookaburra. Investors must make a minimum initial purchase of $5,000 worth of approved metals to establish a precious metals IRA. Each subsequent purchase of bullion must be at least $1,000.
Any IRS-approved bullion must meet minimum purity requirements in order to be included inside of an IRA. Additionally, when an investor makes a purchase of Australian Kookaburra coins to add to an IRA, the IRS mandates that the metal be held in an approved depository. This precious metals depository is responsible for the safety and maintenance of the bullion.
Those with existing IRAs have the option of transferring or rolling over other funds into a precious metals IRA.
The Perth Mint has an online store, making it possible to buy Silver Kookaburra coins directly from the minting source. Prices are listed in both Australian and United States dollars. Additionally, the Perth Mint has a list of authorized distributors of their precious metals. In order to purchase Silver Kookaburras from previous years, distributors such as APMEX (American Precious Metals Exchange) are recommended.